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Japanese yard to build three Rio Tinto iron ore carriers

London: Leading ore producer Rio Tinto has said that it has ordered three 250,000dwt ore carriers from Japan's Namura Shipyards for $315m, all for delivery by 2012. Sam Walsh (pictured), Rio Tinto Iron Ore ceo said, "Competitive freight and freight management are important levers in our growth plans.  These very large ore carriers will assist us in continuing to provide our customers with better delivery options well into the future while locking in low, long term freight rates for the benefit of our shareholders."

The vessels will be used to transport iron ore from Australia to the company's customers in China and elsewhere and are expected to "help Rio Tinto build upon its natural freight advantage in Asian exports."

Rio Tinto, which is currently fighting off a takeover bid by rival BHP Billiton, may also transport ore from its Guinea mines and has also reserved rights on two additional vessels of similar size.

The company also plans to expand the capacity at its Western Australian Pilbara iron ore operations to 220m tonnes by 2009, based on growing Chinese iron ore imports that are forecast to more than double post 2010. In the long term, Rio Tinto expects to treble annual production from Australia and Guinea to over 600m tonnes of iron ore.  [08/01/08]

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